Lough deepened to allow record breaking cargo ship into harbour
The record books were out in Belfast Harbour this week after the port welcomed the largest single cargo shipment in its 400-year history.
Bulk carrier 'Royal Breeze' docked on Saturday with 56,000 tons of coal which sailed across the Atlantic from Virginia.
The ship's mammoth tonnage dwarves the previous largest cargo to arrive at the port of 41,000 tons and follows the deepening of Victoria Channel in Belfast Lough to cater for such large vessels.
The coal is destined for AES UK's Kilroot power station and was unloaded by the harbour's newest crane, the £2.8m, 40m Gottwald - the largest crane in use in any UK or Irish port.
"Capital expenditure by Belfast Harbour has given Belfast the longest deep water berth and largest dedicated bulk handling crane in Ireland, but such is the size of the Royal Breeze that - for the first time in 50 years - it was necessary to deepen the channel for its entire six-mile length to accommodate ships of this size," Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour's commercial manager, said.
"Investments in new cranes and a deeper channel will enable the harbour to cater for similar sized shipments."
Mark Miller, of AES UK and Ireland, said: "AES is delighted to be working with Belfast Harbour in a way that utilises the excellent infrastructure available in Northern Ireland."